Thursday, August 28, 2008

1968 Democratic National Convention: Vietnam War Protests

With this week's Democratic National Convention (DNC) it is only natural to highlight one of the low lights of the Democratic party's history... It happened on this day 40 years ago in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Much like today's political climate, the United States was involved in a confusing war that had been going on far too long, and there were differences on how to move forward (or backwards).

In this case, the DNC in Chicago endorsed President Lyndon Johnson's administration's platform on the war in Vietnam and chose VP Hubert Humphrey as the party's nominee for president. Humphrey had adopted Johnson's views of staying in the war awaiting the results of the Paris Peace Talks, where the leaders of both North and South Vietnam would meat in Paris to negotiate peace.

Johnson had opted not to seek re-election because he wanted to concentrate on peacemaking. It's very rare that a President does not run for a second term, but it has happened... see the notes at the bottom for other occurrences.

Many Democrats had hoped that Eugene McCarthy, who called for an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, would be the nominee.

The decision to support Vice President Humphrey and in turn Johnson's platform on the Vietnam War resulted in a heated three-hour debate inside the convention hall.

Meanwhile, a full-scale riot erupted outside in the streets, where antiwar protesters fought with police and the National Guard. By the end of the convention, some 668 demonstrators had been arrested.

Eight of the protesters were charged with conspiracy in connection with the violence. They were known collectively as the "Chicago Eight". But one of the eight was tried separately after declaring a mistrial and they were renamed the "Chicago Seven".

Needless to say, America was shocked by the images of armed conflict in the streets broadcast on TV and in the papers. The Republican Party quickly reacted and vowed to restore law and order, earning Richard Nixon a lot of support and eventually the Presidency.

Other Presidents not seeking re-election:

Lyndon Johnson, opted to withdraw from the 1968 election to concentrate on peacemaking, though his Vietnam War policy did not support this.

James Polk -- retired after one term and did not seek re-election

And James Buchanan's party did not nominate him for re-election in 1860... he was a lame duck who didn't do much to stop the Civil War and is rated as one of the worst Presidents in history.

For more information about this year's Democratic National Convention visit their website:

Here's more about the riots from the Chicago History Museum:

and I can't believe people are encouraging another riot...


Friday, August 22, 2008

Links to History: Antiques Road Show Web Site

I receive great information via email and love to share them with you... this one comes from PBS. To keep the integrity of the message they'd like you to receive, I simply copied the email from them verbatim.

"As part of Antique Roadshow's 12th broadcast season on PBS, the popular series launched a newly re-designed Web site at with improved navigation, a first-of-its-kind searchable archive of appraisal videos from past seasons, a "you are there" video feature called "Your Stories," and a teachers' guide for using ROADSHOW in the classroom.

Additional information about the new features and organization of the site are included below.

The ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Archive currently offers streaming video, stills, transcripts, and more about appraisals featured in seasons 9 through 12—all presented in an easy-to-use format. Appraisals from earlier seasons will be added over the next eighteen months.
"Your Stories" recreates the excitement and anticipation of arriving at a ROADSHOW event, sharing family legends and antiquing sagas with other guests waiting on line. Now, ROADSHOW Online visitors are in on the conversation as cameras capture guests and their objects pre-appraisal.

The ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Teacher's Guide: ROADSHOW Online's first official foray into the realm of education, is designed to offer new ways to get students excited and engaged in history, geography, the arts and society, and a range of other topics, using the ROADSHOW Archive. Questions, activities, and other resources invite students to take a closer look at the objects people have used throughout history and to develop a sense of wonder about the people and events of the past, present, and even the future.

Visitors to the re-designed site find features, schedules, and information-packed articles organized into five sections:

The ROADSHOW Archive: This unique video archive allows collectors to search by item category (jewelry, furniture, glass, etc.), appraiser, assigned value, city where an item was filmed, or ROADSHOW season episode number. The record for each item includes a photo, the video of the object's appraisal, text transcript of the appraisal, lists of attributes for each object, and who appraised it in which show.

On Your TV: The TV schedule, links to cities visited on past tours, information about appraisers, host Mark L. Walberg, and our sponsors.

On the Road: The current appraisal tour schedule and links to apply for tickets, to tour city information pages, to the Summer Tour FAQ's and more.

Only Online: Hear more about extraordinary ROADSHOW finds in "Follow the Stories;" learn from our experts in "Tips of the Trade;" polish your antiquing lingo with our "Glossary," and watch the appraisal event action with "Your Stories."

Resources: Information about the experts and links to resources featured in ROADSHOW's "field trip" segments during visits to the six cities of the 2007 Summer Tour, recommended reading, and more.

And fans also can sign up to receive ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Fanfare, a monthly e-mail bulletin with timely updates about the television series and ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online."


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dr. Benjamin Rush: An Underrated Signer

 George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine and Lewis and Clark. Each of these men owe a great deal of their success to a lesser known man named Benjamin Rush.

Each and every one of the aforementioned characters was aided in one way shape or form by Dr. Benjamin Rush.

In 1813, at the time of his death, Dr. Benjamin Rush was arguably one of America’s three most notable men, George Washington and Ben Franklin being the others. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, he served under 3 presidents, founded five colleges, and trained thousandas of medical students.

In June 1776, he was appointed to represent Philadelphia at the Continental Congress. He later became the physician-general of the Continental Army, where he campaigned for the removal of George Washington as the Army General, after a series of defeats. He later expressed regret for his actions. Washington and Rush were not the best of friends...

Read more about the conversations between George Washington and Benjamin Rush.

Rush is most famous, however, for helping to reconcile the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Dr. Rush did not align himself with either party. His ecumenical approach to politics allowed him to foster relationships with men from both parties, and kept him employed under three different Presidents of varying political beliefs. Thus, Rush was friendly with both Jefferson and Adams.

Rush's efforts would eventually help to reconcile differences between the two great minds. Our good friend Hercules Mulligan of the Foundation Forum puts it best on his blog entry: The Dream of Benjamin Rush. Why reinvent the wheel? Read his post, after finishing mine of course.

Rush also played an important role in the creation of one of America's most influential and inspiring documents, the pro-independence Common Sense. Rush consulted Thomas Paine on the writing of the document.

Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to meet with Dr. Rush with the hope of preparing them for their great exploration. Rush taught Lewis about many of the illnesses he would encounter in the frontier as well as a crash course on bloodletting. Rush provided the expedition crew with a medical kit which included laxatives that contained mercury. As it turns out, these laxatives came in very handy as the lack of clean water and the diet heavy in meat caused the corps to use the pills often.

Incidentally, the large traces of mercury in the crews' feces have allowed scientists and archaeologists to trace more closely the actual route blazed by Lewis and Clark.

All this said, I'm proud to be a founding teacher of a brand new high school in the Philadelphia School District named none other than: The Arts Academy @ Benjamin Rush.

I'm very fortunate to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity of building a high school from the ground up... from the mission statement to graduation. I can't wait to get started.

If anyone out there has any experience in a brand new school... and I mean brand new, first time opened... please share some pointers.

For more information about Benjamin Rush, visit:
Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician

You shouldn't have any trouble finding information about Rush. Rush wrote over 2,000 pages of published letters and essays, in addition to hundreds of unpublished papers. His works are scattered around the world and can be found in both public and private collections.
Here are just a few of his selected writings.


Friday, August 08, 2008

The Battle of Tripoli: America's First War Against Terrorism

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli."

Most of you know, this as the first line to the US Marine Hymn. And if you're like my father (who was not a Marine... he actually "failed" his physical, but that's a different story), you may even know the tune and most of the words. But what the heck does it mean?

The words were inspired by an unanticipated battle in 1805, where nearly 1000 soldiers, most of whom were not American, fought in the U.S. Marines' first battle on foreign land.

In the late 18th century it was common place for Muslim terrorists to carry out unprovoked attacks on American ships sailing in the seas of northern Africa. The terrorists were fulfilling their faithful duty. They were carrying out jihad against all Western powers. Because it is written in the Koran that all nations who do not acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad are sinners. Therefore it is the right and duty to those faithful to Muhammad to plunder and enslave those who do not believe. And that mussulman who dies serving his God would go to paradise? Does this sound familiar?

As early as 1786, Thomas Jefferson then the Ambassador to France - was trying to negotiate peace with the Tripoli's Ambassador to Britain and curb these unprovoked attacks. Eventually tribute payments were made to some of these countries, but the attacks by these "Barbary Pirates" continued.

In 1804 off the coast of Tripoli, a US Navy ship, the Philadelphia, ran aground and was quickly engulfed by the pirates. It resulted in 307 Americans being taken hostage. While Jefferson was trying to negotiate peace to rescue the prisoners, an American diplomat decided to take matters into his own hands.

Eaton appointed himself General of a make-shift army. Devastated by the idea of Americans being held hostage, Eaton, accompanied by 8 US Marines set out for Tripoli. Along the way he gathered nearly 1000 Greek, Arab and European mercenary soldiers.

Eaton's basic plan was to end the custom of paying bribe money, to protect American merchant ships from the pillage of Barbary pirates and overthrow Tripoli's leader.

With the support of another army at sea Eaton was successful in capturing the town of Derna. His victory would eventually lead to peace negotiations between the US and the Barbary states.

Many believe his triumph resulted in the American flag being flown over foreign soil for the first time.